The finals of the British Nationals will be played tonight after a thrilling three days of squash.
Up first at 18:00 (GMT+1) is the women’s final, where first-time finalist Georgina Kennedy will be looking to upset defending champion Sarah-Jane Perry.
At 19:00 Joel Makin will seek to be the first Welshman to win the tournament when he plays England’s Adrian Waller, who makes his maiden Nationals final appearance.
Defending Nationals champion Perry has enjoyed a steady route through to the final. She won her first two matches without dropping a game before being worked hard in her semi-final by No.3 seed Emily Whitlock.
In an exciting 62-minute game Perry eventually triumphed, coming from one game down to win 3-1.
Speaking after the match, Perry admitted she had not been at her best during the match and hoped she would turn in an improved performance in today’s final.
In her journey to the final, Kennedy has made a mockery of her World No.74 ranking. The 24-year-old beat Lisa Aitken 3-0 in the first round and then No.4 seed Lucy Turmel 3-1 in the quarter-finals.
It was, however, in the semi-final when the watching world saw the best of Kennedy, as she beat No.2 seed and last year’s finalist Tesni Evans 3-1.
Recent history between Perry and Kennedy suggests the advantage lies with the World No.6. In the pair’s four previous meetings, Perry has three wins, with Kennedy’s sole victory coming in a five-game epic earlier this year in the Pro Squash Challenge Series.
However, such has been the strength of Kennedy’s progress in this tournament, Perry will be unlikely to underestimate her opponent.
World No.10 Makin has looked in imperious form on his way to a second successive Nationals final.
The 26-year-old breezed past Rory Stewart and Nathan Lake without dropping a game in the first two rounds.
Though Declan James posed more of a threat to Makin in the semi-final, the Welshman was able to rely on his impressive work rate as the match wore on, ultimately winning 3-0.
After the match Makin said that he hadn’t performed as well as he could, but was confident in himself and the work he had done ahead of the final.
When World No.21 Waller failed to make his fifth match ball count in the semi-final v George Parker, he may have been forgiven for thinking he was never making a Nationals final, having crashed out in all four of his semi-final appearances.
However, the 31-year-old ultimately kept his nerve with his sixth to edge out his compatriot 11-9 in the fifth game of a brutal 83-minute encounter.
Speaking ahead of today’s final, Waller said of Makin, who beat him in the semi-finals of last year’s Nationals: “Joel is a really good player, he’s very strong, very fit, and he hits nice, clean lines… I’m going to need to step it up and find more quality, otherwise Joel will be all over it.”
When Makin and Waller meet at 19:00 tonight, it will be for the seventh time in their careers. With three wins each so far, both will fancy their chances to claim their first National title, though Makin has bested his opponent in their two most recent encounters